IMDb > Whale Rider (2002)
Whale Rider
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Whale Rider (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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Whale Rider -- A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.


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7.6/10   34,898 votes »
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Up 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Niki Caro (written by)
Witi Ihimaera (book)
View company contact information for Whale Rider on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
29 August 2003 (USA) See more »
One young girl dared to confront the past, change the present and determine the future See more »
A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 32 wins & 33 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Pai will be my leader! See more (357 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Keisha Castle-Hughes ... Paikea

Rawiri Paratene ... Koro

Vicky Haughton ... Nanny Flowers

Cliff Curtis ... Porourangi

Grant Roa ... Uncle Rawiri
Mana Taumaunu ... Hemi

Rachel House ... Shilo
Taungaroa Emile ... Willie
Tammy Davis ... Dog
Mabel Wharekawa ... Maka (as Mabel Wharekawa-Burt)
Rawinia Clarke ... Miro
Tahei Simpson ... Miss Parata
Roi Taimana ... Hemi's Dad (as Roimata Taimana)
Elizabeth Skeen ... Rehua
Tyronne White ... Jake (as Tyrone White)
Taupua Whakataka-Brightwell ... Ropata
Tenia McClutchie-Mita ... Wiremu
Peter Patuwai ... Bubba
Rutene Spooner ... Parekura
Riccardo Davis ... Maui
Apiata Whangaparita-Apanui ... Henare

John Sumner ... Obstetrician
Sam Woods ... Young Rawiri
Pura Tangira ... Ace
Jane O'Kane ... Anne
Aumuri Parata-Haua ... Baby Paikea

Directed by
Niki Caro 
Writing credits
Niki Caro (written by)

Witi Ihimaera (book "The Whale Rider")

Produced by
John Barnett .... producer
Reinhard Brundig .... co-producer
Bill Gavin .... executive producer
Linda Goldstein Knowlton .... executive producer
Reinhild Gräber .... supervising producer: ApolloMedia
Frank Hübner .... producer
Witi Ihimaera .... associate producer
Rudolf Kurz .... supervising producer: ApolloMedia
Tim Sanders .... producer
Original Music by
Lisa Gerrard 
Cinematography by
Leon Narbey (director of photography)
Film Editing by
David Coulson 
Casting by
Diana Rowan 
Production Design by
Grant Major 
Art Direction by
Grace Mok 
Costume Design by
Kirsty Cameron 
Makeup Department
Barbie Cope .... hair assistant
Barbie Cope .... makeup assistant
Denise Kum .... hair supervisor
Denise Kum .... makeup supervisor
Jane O'Kane .... hair assistant
Jane O'Kane .... makeup assistant
Kenzie Sampson .... makeup trainee (as Kenzie Samson)
Orlando Bassi .... wig maker (uncredited)
Production Management
Janet McIver .... production manager
Peter Moerenhout .... unit manager (as Pete Moerenhout)
Anne Urban .... post-production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Anna Gundesen .... assistant director: second unit
Neil James .... second assistant director
Michelle Sowman .... third assistant director
Liz Tan .... first assistant director
Art Department
John Brockie .... carpenter
Pete Burney .... carpenter
Brian Campbell .... set finisher
Graham Collins .... carpenter
Kerry Dunn .... scenic artist
Jackie Gilmore .... set dresser
Brett Graham .... sculptor: Porourangi's sculpture
Kate Highfield .... art department manager
Maka Makatoa .... storyboard artist
Bernard Makoare .... designer: Reiputa
John Miles .... construction manager
Russell Munro .... carpenter (as Russ Munro)
Lia Neilson .... art department runner
Josh Patterson .... greensman
Aaron Reedy .... property assistant
Michaela Sanders .... art department runner
Richard Sheath .... leading hand
Megan Vertelle .... set dresser/buyer
Nick Walter .... carpenter
Nick Weir .... props buyer
Neil Williamson .... carpenter
Roger Murray .... propmaker (uncredited)
Anthony Sumich .... props stand-by (uncredited)
Sound Department
Chris Burt .... adr supervisor
Stephan Colli .... sound designer: atmos
Stephan Colli .... sound supervisor
Marconi de Morais .... dubbing mixer
Corrin Ellingford .... boom operator
Hubert Henle .... sound consultant: Dolby
Stefan Korte .... re-recording mixer
David Madigan .... sound recordist
Sven Neumann .... dialogue editor
Mirko Reinhard .... special effects sound designer
Luigi Rensinghoff .... dialogue editor
Wilmont Schulze .... foley artist
Josef Steinbüchel .... special effects sound designer
Markus Wimmer .... special effects sound designer
André Zimmerman .... sound designer: atmos (as André Zimmermann)
David Madigan .... production sound mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Phil Addenbrook .... physical effects: Film Effects (as Phil Addenbrooke)
Dean Clarke .... physical effects: Film Effects
Oliver Gee .... special effects assistant
Visual Effects by
Dan Blanchard .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Christel Brunn .... visual effects producer: TVT
Justin Buckingham .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Manfred Büttner .... visual effects producer: TVT
Barry Down .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Steve Dyson .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Erich Eder .... inferno artist: TVT
Erich Eder .... technical director: TVT
Terry Green .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Jason Johnston .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
John Lott .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Steve Lowe .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
George Maihöfer .... visual effects superviser: TVT (as George Maihoefer)
Charlie McClellan .... digital effects consultant: TVT (as Charles McClellan)
Greg N. Nichols .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects (as Greg Nichols)
Kevin Riley .... visual effects
Caterina Schiffers .... digital compositing: TVT
Florian Schuck .... digital retouching: TVT
Dean Taylor .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Gaysorn Thavat .... visual effects (as Gatsorn Thavat)
Markus Wollschläger .... digital retouching: TVT
Steve Young .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Dee McClelland .... dailies colorist (uncredited)
Mark Harris .... stunt coordinator
Camera and Electrical Department
Armie Armstrong .... underwater camera operator
Rachel Beard .... clapper loader
Joshua Creek .... additional grip (as Josh Creeks)
Kevin Donovan .... key grip
Rhys Duncan .... steadicam operator
Kirsty Griffin .... still photographer
Brenden Holster .... camera assistant: second unit (as Brendan Holster)
Steven Joyce .... generator operator (as Steve Joyce)
Steven Joyce .... generator operator
Brian Laird .... best boy
Henare Mato .... lighting assistant
Grant McKinnon .... gaffer
Leon Narbey .... camera operator
Kevin Riley .... camera operator: second unit
Jim Rowe .... grip assistant
Paul Samuels .... focus puller
Sigmund Spath .... underwater photographer
Gaysorn Thavat .... focus puller: second unit
Johnny Yarrel .... video assistant
James Young .... lighting assistant
Casting Department
Christina Asher .... additional casting
Robyn Cammell .... casting assistant (as Robin Cammell)
Riwia Fox .... casting assistant
Riwia Fox .... extras casting
Karen Sydney .... additional casting
Stu Turner .... additional casting (as Stu Turner)
Stu Turner .... additional casting (as Stuart Turner)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Paul Booth .... wardrobe runner
Deirdre McKessar .... assistant costume designer
Jenny Rushton .... standby wardrobe (as Jenni Rushton)
Editorial Department
Julie Alp .... assistant editor
Hans Joachim Bruß .... color grader (as Hans-Joachim Bruß)
Renate Dahmen .... negative cutter
Guido Krajewski .... editing facility manager
Bruce McArthur .... laboratory manager: Atlas
Robert Pinnow .... post-production technical supervisor: TVT
Clare Burlinson .... video colorist (uncredited)
Charles Knight .... editorial advisor (uncredited)
Dee McClelland .... rushes colorist (uncredited)
Location Management
Podge .... location manager
Music Department
Simon Bowley .... music mixer
Ricky Edwards .... technical music support (as Rickey Edwards)
Chris Gough .... music supervisor: Mana Music
Jacek Tuschewski .... technical music support (as Jacek Tushewski)
Michael Edwards .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Savage .... music performer: Deceptikonz member (uncredited)
Other crew
Phil Addenbrook .... marine engineer: Film Effects (as Phil Addenbrooke)
Kath Allen .... chaperone: Gisborne
Shane Armitage .... safety officer
Thomas Becker .... legal affairs: ApolloMedia
Tania Bettany .... financial controller: South Pacific Pictures
Josef Brandmaier .... structured finance
Anni Browning .... completion bond: Film Finances
Sally Campbell .... head of production: South Pacific Pictures
Alice Carstensen .... production runner
Dean Clarke .... marine engineer: Film Effects
Sian Clement .... unit publicist
Helen Copplestone .... assistant accountant
Birthe Danielsen .... assistant: Mr. Felscher
David Dant .... shortfall insurance: Filmvision
Matt Emery .... legal and business affairs manager: South Pacific Pictures
Spencer Faulkner .... unit assistant: second unit
Thorsten Felscher .... financial controller: ApolloMedia
Laura Fong .... production coordinator
Oliver Gee .... marine engineer: Film Effects
Moira Grant .... production coordinator
Carol Haapu .... consultant: Iwi
Rewa Harker .... assistant: John Barnett
Brian Harris .... operator: remote head
Karen Hawkyard .... animal wrangler
Willie Heatley .... boat coordinator (as Willy Heatley)
Maude Isaac .... chaperone: Gisborne
Lyssa Judd .... production runner
Camelija Karlic .... production coordinator: Pandora
Jens Kriegel .... projection assistant
Matt Lawford .... shortfall insurance: Filmvision
Di Magee .... production accountant
Samia Mainz .... assistant: Mr. Hubner
Pat Merrifield .... swimming coach
Guy Moana .... maori design/carvings
James Mok .... title designer: TVT
Damian Molloy .... water safety
Markus Münz .... projection assistant
Waio Parata-Haua .... stand-in: Paikea
Johnny Poi .... instructor: Taiaha
Ngamaru Raerino .... kaumatua: South Pacific Pictures
Karin Reinink .... assistant: John Barnett
Robert Sarkies .... script editor
Joan Scheckel .... script consultant
Nadine Schäfer .... assistant: Mr. Westerkamp and Mr. Schafer
Krissy Stainton .... production runner
Dominic Stones .... unit assistant
Gavin Strawhan .... script consultant
Hone Taumaunu .... consultant: Iwi
Rainer Teusner .... accountant: Pandora
Kathleen Thomas .... continuity (as Kath Thomas)
Aaron Tomlinson .... casual assistant
Martin Trendall .... insurance: Mahony, Trendall, Jack
Mike Turner .... manager: second unit
Karla Wallace .... production secretary
Jörg Westerkamp .... legal affairs: ApolloMedia (as Jorg Westerkamp)
Stephanie Wilkin .... chaperone
Stephanie Wilkin .... tutor
Hone Taumaunu .... production advisor (uncredited)
Dave Ahu .... special thanks
Mere Boynton .... special thanks
Nancy Greystone .... special thanks
Liddy Holloway .... special thanks
Derek Lardelli .... special thanks (as Derek)
Rose Lardelli .... special thanks
Andrew Lister .... special thanks
Ian Mune .... special thanks
Murray Newey .... special thanks
Kath Te Kani .... special thanks
Judith Trye .... special thanks
Tim Worrall .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for brief language and a momentary drug reference
101 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Brazil:Livre | Canada:PG (Alberta/Manitoba/Nova Scotia/Ontario) | Canada:G (British Columbia/Quebec) | Finland:K-7 | Germany:6 | Hong Kong:IIA | Iceland:L | Ireland:PG | Mexico:A | Netherlands:AL | New Zealand:PG | Norway:11 | Peru:Apt | Portugal:M/6 | Singapore:PG | Singapore:PG13 (re-rating) | South Korea:All | Sweden:7 | Switzerland:10 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:10 (canton of Vaud) | Switzerland:12 (canton of the Grisons) | UK:PG | USA:PG-13

Did You Know?

The whales in the movie are a combination of footage of real whales, life size models (some with humans creating movement) and CGI. Keisha Castle-Hughes said the key whale riding scene took place 15-20 miles offshore, and was terrifying.See more »
Continuity: The father and grandfather argue after the slide show, and the father goes to pull down the white sheet that was hung over some drapes to act as a screen. He pulls it down, along with the rod and orange drapes that the sheet was hanging from. Moments later, the drapes are back up in place and hanging perfectly straight, without enough time for him to re-hang the drapes.See more »
[first lines]
Paikea:In the old days, the land felt a great emptiness. It was waiting. Waiting to be filled up. Waiting for someone to love it. Waiting for a leader.
[child birth scene]
Paikea:And he came on the back of a whale. A man to lead a new people. Our ancestor, Paikea. But now we were waiting for the firstborn of the new generation, for the descendant of the whale rider. For the boy who would be chief.
Paikea:There was no gladness when I was born. My twin brother died, and took our mother with him.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Reel Injun (2009)See more »
Kaikoura DubSee more »


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82 out of 94 people found the following review useful.
Pai will be my leader!, 12 June 2003
Author: jotix100 from New York

This film, which opened in New York recently, was a total surprise. Director Niki Caro has done wonders in bringing this story to the screen as it shows a different and much simple world than the rat race of our society and the horrible times we live in.

The film presents a glimpse of the Maori society in New Zealand's North Island. Having visited New Zealand, but not being very familiar with the Maori culture, this film was a refreshing way to learn some aspects of it.

The story presented here has a lot to do with pride and tradition, which is a running theme among different cultural groups the world over. It has to do with the frustration of Koro by the defection of his eldest son, the designated heir of hundred years of a bloodline where only the males can carry the knowledge and the legends from one generation to the next.

Because of the rage Porourangi, the eldest son, feels after the death of his wife giving birth to twins, where only the female survives, he leaves his country and the baby girl is taken by the grandparents. The girl, Pai, will grow to be an enchanting girl who will be excluded from the teachings of her grandfather Koro. Even though he loves the girl, he can't deviate in his narrow vision of the world he knows.

Basically, it is a simple story very well told with a great performance by the child actress Keisha Castle-Hughes. This girl has such a strong magnetism while on camera that one tends to forget the rest of the other characters every time she appears. The grandparents are very well portrayed by Rawiri Paratene and Vicky Houghton.

This is a film for all ages to enjoy. Compare it with the latest releases from Hollywood, and it's no wonder to arrive at the conclusion that stories like Whale Rider have such an universal appeal that should be brought to the screen more often because of the positive way they show a society and its people at its best.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (357 total) »

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